Charlotte and St. Louis Sabres to duke it out as both vie for their 1st National Championship

The Women’s Division II Championship match may be the hardest to predict this weekend.

The Women's Division II Championship match may be the hardest to predict out of championship matches this weekend. Charlotte has been one of the most dominant teams in country, consistently outscoring opponents by a considerable margin as they stayed undefeated and on five separate occasions, scored over 70 points. Their opponents this weekend, the St. Louis Sabres, have been impressive as well playing at a high level, but not winning in the same emphatic fashion as Charlotte. Interestingly though, despite their impressive regular season, Charlotte found themselves in tight competition all through the Eastern Championships. Meanwhile, the Sabres were able to win comfortably in all of their Western Championship pairings. The contrasting seasons and post seasons make this matchup a must watch.

The Women's Division II National Championship Match will be played at 3pm MDT on June 2nd at Infinity Park and will be available to watch live via FloRugby. 

Both the Sabres and Charlotte will be playing for their first national championship, but despite the nerves associated with a game of this stature, the butterflies seem to be well kept for St. Louis at least. The Sabres coach, Amy Gallop explained, "So far we've had emotions under control, but you can tell that as we get closer to the weekend players are getting a little more anxious."

For Charlotte, they proved in their last match that nerves and resolve are made of steel. Despite leading for the first 70 minutes against Providence the women from North Carolina, found themselves down in the final moments of the game. As the clock struck full time, a try put them back on top and awarded a trip to the National Championship. Charlotte's coach Brad Richard noted, "We certainly feel more confident in our grit and resolve, and more assured that our pattern of play and cohesiveness will put us in the position to compete with any team." They will need as much grit and resolve as possible this weekend against an opponent of St. Louis' caliber.

Neither team has advanced this far into the national playoffs before, but they both credit the same quality as reason for reaching this stage; team culture. Both the Sabres and Charlotte believe this is the best team dynamic they've ever had and their players confidence and trust in one another has played a monumental role in reaching the final.

"We've been fortunate enough to be at the point where quite a few players have been playing together for a couple of seasons, so there is some chemistry there; but, we've also been fortunate to have players with good rugby experience - or generally exceptional athletes - join the team." Gallop clarified, "This benefitted us so that we could work on game strategy / concepts rather than having to continuously teach the basics of play...The desire to work together as a team, both on and off the field."

Richards elucidated a similar message about his team and the ethos they've been busy creating over the past few seasons. "A dedication to synthesizing all modes of preparation including physical, psychological, intellectual, and cultural.  We are not over-emphasizing any component as they all are vital to building a successful team.  Everyone in the program is bought in and contributing to the max extent of their capabilities." This was displayed prominently at Ruggerfest where despite a couple of tough days filled with results that did not go their way, the team was still in high spirits. Richards described that moment as being a defining moment in the season, and when he fully understood the potential of his team.

This will be the first meeting between these two teams meaning both are going into the game blind, but that doesn't mean they don't have preconceived notions about what the other will bring to the table. The Sabres, according to Gallop, are anticipating a well-balanced team, "I expect their scrums to be tough and their backs to be fast... I expect Charlotte to take advantage of any opportunity we give them, so we have to be our absolute best from start to finish." Richards wasn't as certain about the Sabres style of play, but knew they were going to be a handful, "We expect any team at this level of play to be focused, disciplined and resolute in applying their style of play in the most competitive way possible."

Relaxation seems to be the key to both teams as they approach this weekend. They've been playing in their systems for a couple of seasons now and feel comfortable in them. For the Sabres, their system is two parts brute strength and one part finesse. For Charlotte, they will look to spread St. Louis wide and get on the scoreboard early and often. Despite their best laid plans, coaches know they will go awry. That's why both coaches are telling their players to stay calm and enjoy the experience. This game will be won by a team's ability to improvise, adapt and overcome.